TikTok: Are you sure this is for your brand?

Silvia Marenaci
Silvia Marenaci
Paid Advertising Specialist

9 min reading

TikTok is an excellent platform for selling as well as building community. Find out how businesses can make use of it.

This is not the umpteenth article on what TikTok is and we are sure that by now there are very few who are not aware of this world that has attracted the attention of young and old ones.

We should however start with a small clarification: TikTok is not a social network, as it is more commonly defined, but an 'entertainment platform', as it defines itself. 

The platform is based on sharing short-form video content that aims to be as engaging as possible.

TikTok's short videos have changed online entertainment, creating completely new opportunities for audience engagement, which also generate a positive impact for companies willing to benefit from its potential.

Despite this, prejudices and perplexities about TikTok are still widespread on the part of many companies, and the platform's association with kids and dancing is not entirely overcome.

If your business is not yet on TikTok and your doubts are based on questions such as 

"does it make sense if our target audience is not Generation Z?" or "would we have to do dance to be successful?" or even "would it really lead to sales?" what you are about to read may surprise you. 

Let's proceed by points.

Starting with the demographics of the platform (which boasts more than 1 billion users), only 25 per cent of members are between the ages of 10 and 19, 22.4 per cent between 20 and 29, 21.7 per cent between 30 and 39, and the remaining 31.3 per cent aged 40 and over. This is therefore a very diverse audience, including people with purchasing power who are probably interested in your business.

Now let's turn to the content: we don't just find entertaining and funny videos, although they are very popular. A great deal of informative and educational content is shared on the platform, both by companies and by 'creators' (users specialised in creating relevant content, often by profession).

Over the past year, the Chinese entertainment platform has indeed shown new ways to entertain and even help people learn and discover new ideas. These new trends have also led many brands to revise their communication on social media to engage their community and rely on creators who could create the most suitable content.

The platform is indeed proving increasingly strategic for companies that want to understand consumer trends and needs and anticipate trends.

Does all this ultimately lead to sales? Absolutely.

The entertainment ecosystem stimulates action. 'Shoppertainment' ( from 'shopping+entertainment') is a rapidly growing opportunity. By combining informative content with truly entertaining experiences, shoppertainment appeals to today's digital native consumers. That's because the modern online audience increasingly demands authentic and emotional brand content driven by experiential engagement. In parallel, the model integrates content and community to create highly engaging shopping experiences.

With its enticing mix of informative, entertaining and fan-supported entertainment, shoppertainment on TikTok creates an opportunity for brands to build consumer loyalty, increasing lifetime value (LTV) and return on investment (ROI).

TikTok trends of 2023

TikTok is literally changing both the way people communicate and the actual culture of people and can no longer be underestimated. 

Sofia Hernandez, Global Head of Business Marketing at TikTok, said: "2022 was the year when people realised that they didn't have to live their lives the way they have always done, with different views and ideas transcending cultures on TikTok".

From TikTok's annual 'What's next report 2023' we can already extrapolate three important changes that will drive the current year

* entertainment will be increasingly personalised; 
* people will seek joy and carefreeness as a source of well-being; 
* the community will be at the centre, becoming a place of sharing and stimulation capable of bringing change to people's lives.

So it is all about entertainment, leisure and joy? No. 

It also turns out that "92% of users experienced a positive emotion after watching a TikTok video that led them to take an action off the platform." 

To brands, delivering more effective messages on a platform that are stimulating, entertaining, personalised and able to entertain the community also means attracting new customers and leading them to conversion.

As a matter of fact, 57% of the people on TikTok in Italy consider the ads on the platform very interesting, so much so that they consider user comments as a reference point when evaluating a product.

Among the relevant and essential elements for fans of the platform, we find happiness, joy, fun. 

So are we still talking about 'dancing'? No thanks, but perhaps something that has always characterised human beings in a certain sense: 'the pursuit of happiness'.

TikTok, compared to other less recent social platforms, is also characterised by more positivity and a sense of belonging to a community.

Joy is indeed a powerful and ubiquitous common thread in TikTok's videos, making the platform the perfect place for people to discover humour, passion, relaxation and other content that allows them to prioritise themselves.

According to the report, during 2023, community members will inspire each other to change their daily lives with newfound confidence. Users often feel so represented by TikTok content that they often act on what they see in their 'For You' feed.

People continue to reflect on their values in an ever-changing world with new challenges and problems to face. This helps users bond a lot with each other and be inspired to make choices or make a change in their lives. The sharing of values is very high and this leads people to inspire each other. As a matter of fact, in Italy more than 2 out of 5 users say they feel part of a community thanks to the inclusive power of creators.

Consider TikTok Creators as allies

The ingredient that seems to make the difference in winning the hearts of the increasingly demanding TikTok community is authenticity

Users are increasingly looking for new information that can dispel myths and enable them to trust the creators they follow. This element of trust can translate into a greater propensity to convert when a creator speaks positively about a brand. 

 58% of Italian users say they are more likely to trust brands after hearing about them from TikTok's creators. 

But why are these figures so effective?

Creators experience TikTok first-hand, which means they have in-depth knowledge of every trend, trick and method for creating native content suitable for TikTok. Secondly, thanks to their cultural competence combined with their unique style, they have already created their own loyal, engaged fanbase that values their opinions, thus representing an audience with great potential.

Creators thus assume a key role and, when they are well recognised on the platform, have a good influence on people: as many as 65% of Italians on TikTok say they always rely on online reviews and advice from creators when deciding what to buy online.

The shift away from transactional sponsorships and traditional product placements towards more authentic collaboration has not only produced effective results for brands. It has also inspired them to play an active role in high-impact debates on issues such as racial equality

and mental health, helping to make the world a better place, with more values and humanity.

It is therefore essential to understand that creators must become the best allies of brands that want to succeed, and that companies must therefore learn how to collaborate with them.

Make sponsorships that don't look like sponsorships

o if the keys to success for brands on TikTok are authenticity and entertainment, companies can no longer think about online advertising as they have been used to do so far on other platforms. 

This means that brands can see incredible business results if and when their content or advertising conveys messages that are watched and loved as much as other entertainment content.

Did you think you could make sponsorships on TikTok by recycling those nice banners or videos already used in other advertising platforms? You are unfortunately on the wrong track.

"Don't Make Ads. Make TikToks."

"Don't Make Ads. Make TikToks." is the platform's invitation to be more creative, more authentic and to create content that really speaks to people.

TikTok challenges brands and therefore advertisers to embrace the creativity, positivity and reality of the platform to connect with the TikTok community in a meaningful way.

This advice reflects somewhat what is the general need for advertising today, which suffers from a constant decline in the attention of online users. 

It is indeed becoming increasingly difficult for an ad to capture the attention of its target audience these days.  Entertainment and connectivity have evolved, while ad formats have remained the same for years, becoming more and more a source of annoyance and being hidden whenever it is possible. 

On the other hand, TikTok's 'For You' feed section represents a very different space from the rest of the internet. The full-screen and active audio features, peculiar to the entertainment platform, engage users with entertaining and engaging content, encouraging creation and participation. In addition, the short-form video format also brings with it an endless cycle of new trends, creating new ways in which messages find traction every day.

For brands, this means a new space where anything is possible, if they interact as members of the platform's community and understand its peculiarities. 

So, glossy content, goodbye! Users want realistic content and not just 'pretty' content.

But there is another positive aspect: TikTok offers anyone the tools to create and the barrier to entry is low. This means that brands do not need to spend exorbitant resources to create high-impact content. The TikTok community embraces spontaneity and authenticity and cares more about how compelling the content is than the production value.

The relevance of the content to users' needs has therefore never been more decisive in achieving results through sponsorship.

Customers are more interested in the real-life benefits of products and getting information from a reliable and recognisable source, rather than studio-quality effects and high production costs.

Why should your company be on TikTok?

It doesn't matter who you are or what kind of business you run: TikTok has something to offer everyone, from large to small businesses.

Some industries are definitely getting the biggest buzz and reporting the most growth on the platform, according to the latest What's Next Report, and they are:

* beauty and personal care
* transport and vehicles
* clothing and accessories
* food and drink
* travel

So, if your business falls into the following categories, you cannot miss out on the opportunities provided by the platform. Even otherwise, however, the potential for all other sectors should not be underestimated, especially if they represent a niche. Let's not forget that people worldwide say that TikTok is almost twice as likely to introduce users to new topics they didn't know they liked. 

Intriguing and informing about one's business, products and services, whatever they may be, is therefore the first objective to keep in mind when approaching the platform and its community.

Let us now turn to the practical aspect: first of all, creating a business account is very simple and the functionalities for engaging users numerous. The platform's ability to be pushed in users' 'For You' feeds results in greater exposure and coverage of users who can learn about our brand organically. Furthermore, the engagement rate with TikTok content is generally higher than with other social platforms: TikTok's average E.G. is around 4.25%, while Instagram's is 0.38%.

Reach a larger audience by having TikTok's Ad Manager, thanks to which, according to Hootsuite, you can cover around 18% of all internet users aged 18 and over.

The available budget for sponsoring your own content is also not a barrier to entry: TikTok has a minimum budget per campaign of €50 daily or total

Moreover, thanks to the high standards of relevance of the ads required by TikTok, users seem to really enjoy seeing the ads, which are more trendy than ads on other platforms and also more fun and upbeat.

The ad formats are different and perfectly designed to optimise engagement with the community. The targeting options are also interesting and more detailed than those of the competitor Meta.

If you also have an e-commerce, the opportunity to exploit TikTok becomes even more strategic.

TikTok offers the possibility of 'social commerce', i.e. selling on social channels with a tailor-made user experience.

This process better integrates the social with the online store, so that users do not leave the platform, leading them more easily to conversion.

In addition, thanks to the partnership with Shopify, TikTok will make it increasingly possible to optimise campaigns with an e-commerce sales objective. Some particularly interesting features have already been launched in the US, and we look forward to trying them out.

We can therefore conclude that TikTok is a resource not to be underestimated for any business that knows how to exploit it.

It is important to remember, however, that it is not enough to open an account on the platform, but it is essential to know and exploit its specific features in order to better adapt and respond to the desires of the users who populate it.

Adopting a strategy that is consistent with the brand and the platform is therefore essential to succeed with TikTok. If you want to learn more about this fantastic world, we are ready to help you!